Building a Serviceable Service Desk

service-desk

If there is a bread and butter aspect to a successful MSP, it has to be the service desk. Here is where the rubber meets the road, client IT problems addressed, and is the focal point for how clients interact with your company.

A mediocre or substandard service desk is a death knell. In contrast, a superb service desk creates customer loyalty, SLA compliance and great word of mouth. At the same time, such a desk is efficient, creating more revenue and profit opportunity.

Building an optimum service desk takes thought, planning and careful execution. Here are six areas to focus on, starting with staffing:

  1. Rightsizing the Service Desk

The goal for staffing is to have the exact right amount of workers to keep customers happy without overspending on manpower.

Just as a MSP’s overall business is driven by metrics, so is service desk staffing. How fast are problems being resolved; what percent of service desk workers time is spent on customer issues; are calls and tickets increasing or decreasing?

  1. How to Hire Staff

Your service desk staff doesn’t just man the technical front lines: they are the face of your business. You need to choose techs with personality and knowledge.

Larger service desks have defined hierarchies which can be many levels deep.

Some MSPs have service desk analysts that interact the most with customers. These analysts give clients the news that there is a problem such as an outage, then log the incident and see it through till it is resolved, whether they do the work or have it handled by a problem manager.

With this high-level view, analysts can make sure that SLAs are held to, and to work with customers if the SLA is in danger of being violated or there is a service problem where compensation is required.

Many times, there are Team Leaders in the service desk, a high-level position that helps set a path for service desk improvement and development, and oversees customer service. These leaders are responsible for providing a steady stream of current fixes, and making sure they are implemented.  Here, obviously, the ability to manage a technical staff, as well as being technical themselves, is critical.

Above the team leaders might be a Service Desk Manager. The buck stops with the Service Desk Manager, who is responsible for hiring and managing overall operations.

  1. How to Keep Staff

Many successful MSPs like to promote from within. As a result, they hire new employees for the lowest level positions such as a Problem Technician, train them, and then help them rise through the ranks. This is great for morale, and your future service desk managers will be steeped in your technology and company culture.

The conclusion here is that training is a key way to retain and development staff. Keep in mind, though, that the training has to have a purpose. It should be aimed at the services you have and the ones you intend to develop. At the same time, staff should be rewarded for their learning through new opportunities, promotions, raises and bonuses.

This should all be the basis of defined career paths for service desk staffers – and likely includes moving beyond the service desk one day.

  1. Setting Staff Hours

The longer your tech staff is available, the better. Try to set up a schedule that makes maximum use of what you have. There is no sense in having 10 problem technicians on duty at the same time when some are barely working, and having no one for the rest of the day. Setting shifts solves this problem.

At the same time, you know that some times are busier that others, so during times of heavy demand make sure you have enough staff working. Part of this is having a backup staffing plan for when some of your techs are unexpectedly absent.

  1. Should You Push Self-Service?

There is something special about the personal touch that exists between a client and service desk staffers. But not every problem requires that one-on-one interaction.

Many issues can be handled on a self-service basis where the client logs into your ticketing system (through a subset of what your own techs use), logs their issue and, in some cases, can have it resolved all through the self-service portal. Sometimes this can be a simple set of instructions such as how to install a printer or deal with a hung browser. These issues can be dealt with by building a knowledge base and keeping it updated as new issues arise.

One advantage is the customer doesn’t have to wait for a call or email back, but can get the ball rolling right away – giving them a sense of control.

This approach is also cheaper, meaning an MSP can charge less for service desk help if they need to remain competitive.

  1. Use Standard Tools and Processes

There is often a balancing act between MSPs and their clients where clients want the service provider to support the tools already in-house. That can be a big mistake. Not only would the MSP have to support myriad systems, they wouldn’t get to use the systems they have carefully vetted and mastered.

When it comes to tickets, MSPs should push back if the client wants to use a tool they already have in place. Once the client sees tickets handled smoothly and quickly they will thank you for sticking to your guns.

This also makes your service desk agents far more productive, increases your profits and gives you more flexibility in how you price out your service desk activities.

Kaseya’s Service Desk Options

Kaseya offers two service desk options, depending on your specific needs.

Kaseya Business Management Solution (BMS) includes a complete service desk and ticketing solution.

In addition, Kaseya VSA, a next-generation a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solution, offers a web-based service desk that is based on the ITIL framework and provides help desk and rich service desk functions. You can fully automate the service desk based on the IT processes you define. With a single tool and console, you can deal with all your change requests, as well as all problems and incidents.

The VSA service desk can streamline help desk processes by routing tickets automatically to the appropriate role or initiate agent procedures based on unique business rules. VSA’s integrated agent-based architecture provides complete history tracking with direct access to the critical resources you need.

With integrated service desk, tickets are automatically opened and managed, reducing manual steps required by your staff. The VSA service desk also provides all historical asset and problem information, helps track end users for repetitive behavior (possible training issue), and captures all ticket details (including the machine processes that were running at the time the ticket was opened) – all of which streamline the management process.


dougbarney

Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.

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